(I've been absent for nearly a week, taking a physical and psychological breather. Now I have returned ~ aren't you glad?)
The 2012 presidential election results are all but complete, after a slight delay in tabulating results in (where else?) Florida. Here are the final tallies ~
- 332 electoral votes - Barack Obama (D)
- 206 electoral votes - Mitt Romney (R)
- 61,140,279 votes - Barack Obama (D)
- 58,148,398 votes - Mitt Romney (R)
The above figures are courtesy of Huffington Post's election results, which includes a breakdown by state.
President Obama's strongest support came from blacks, Asians, Latinos, women, and younger voters. Mr. Romney's strongest support came from whites, especially white men.
Joel Benenson comments in the NYTimes that there was more than demographics at play in Obama's re-election. An exerpt ~ "The president's victory was a triumph of vision, not of demographics. He won because he articulated a set of values that define an America that the majority of us wish to live in. A nation that makes the investments we need to strengthen and grow the middle class. A nation with a fair tax system, and affordable and excellent education for all its citizens. A nation that believes that we are more prosperous when we recognize that we are all in it together.
" ....Two key data points illustrate why Americans were always far more open to President Obama's message and accomplishments than commentators assumed. By a three to one margin (74 percent to 23 percent), voters said that what the country faced since 2008 was an 'extraordinary crisis more severe than we have seen in decades', as opposed to 'a typical recession that the country has every several years'. At the same time, a clear majority, 57 percent, believed that the problems we faced after the crisis were 'too severe for anyone to fix in a single term', while only 4 in 10 voters believed another president would have been able to do more than Mr. Obama to get the economy moving in the past four years.
" .... Moreover, Mr. Obama's strength on the economy was not about 'empathy', as many experts asserted. Rather, for average working-class and middle-class Americans who have believed for nearly a decade that the economic system in American has fallen out of balance for people like them, the president's personal story and policies engendered trust because they connected with voters' lives, aspirations, and beliefs about what it would take to create the future they wanted. That trust was the central economic test in this election."
I would suggest that both demographics and values played a role in the outcome. It is undeniable that the Republican party has become increasingly out of touch with the evolving makeup of the electorate. Their reliance on the white male vote (especially wealthy white males), giving short shrift and sometimes even insult to women and minorities, proved to be their undoing, at least in the presidential race. The tectonic shift in who votes, and why, appears to have eluded moderate Republicans, and appears to be an entirely foreign language to more radical conservatives. Unless they can manage to enter the 21st century, Republican risk becoming obsolete and irrelevant.
There is, of course, more at stake than the economy. I've pointed out several times the utter absence of a meaningful discussion of the environment and climate change. Ironically, it was a symptom of climate change in the form of Hurricane Sandy which may have sealed Obama's win in the final days before the election, allowing him not only to appear appropriately presidential during the crisis response, but also to demonstrate his genuine caring as he listened to and consoled the storm's victims ~ harking back to Bill Clinton's genuine ability to empathize with any listener.
So now the players are back in Washington, with a number of new congressional faces (notably women), but essentially the same party balance of power. There will be tremendous pressure to find ways to break the ideological gridlock which has paralyzed the Capitol during much of Obama's first term ~ a gridlock perpetrated publicly and proudly by Republicans intent on seeing the nation's first black president fail. The voters made it clear that we have no patience for such foolishness. The question is, will they listen?